The Giants in Saint Tropez

01/10/2019, Saint-Tropez (FRA,83), Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2019, day 2

A bay full to the brim!
The large schooners resplendent
Viola on the hunt for the grand slam
A double Vendée Globe champion in the Rolex Trophy
Embracing splendour, spectacle, sport and sailing for the past 20 years, Les Voiles showcased all its finery today in glorious sunshine, a breeze that just kept on building over the course of the afternoon and a ballet of shimmering sails as the 300 competing boats danced across the bay. The anniversary edition of Les Voiles has kicked off in a blaze of glory for every group, from the IRCs and Wallys among the Modern craft, to the small and large Marconis or gaffers among the Classics, the first race was ticked off, teasing onlookers with a hint of the upcoming prizewinners. The Giants put on a show! The Classic yachts glided majestically across the bay today whilst the Modern craft and Wallys strutted their stuff offshore on this the first day of racing in the 21st Voiles de Saint-Tropez. All eyes were on the large cutters and gaff or Marconi schooners measuring 25 to 50 metres in length as they set sail shortly after 14:00 hours from a start line set off the Portalet Tower. Impressive on the line, the very recently renovated Bermudan ketch Sumurun (Fife 1914) was utterly in her element. Meantime, the two 15mRs, virtual sisterships and long-standing rivals as a result, Tuiga (Fife 1909) and Mariska (Fife 1908) rocked their crazily elegant rigs to perfection amidst the other legendary gaffers, the two Moonbeams ‘of Fife’ (1903) and the fourth of that name (1914), with this year’s major comeback, the 34m ketch-rigged Nicholson design Black Swan which is a staggering 120 years of age. However, it was the first clash of the massive gaff schooners that added a timeless quality to the glory years of yachting. Indeed, the immense Elena of London, side by side with Naema and Puritan, battled majestically with the Bermudan yawl Nordwind and the Bermudan schooner Orianda, all of them illuminated by the incredible Mediterranean light and the idyllic SE’ly breeze enabling them to glide gently into this week-long festival of sailing in Saint Tropez.
Mich’ Desj’ hits Saint TropezI was born amidst wooden boats…” The youngest of seven siblings, French legend Michel Desjoyeaux grew up in an environment that revelled in boat building and sailing. His father Henri Desjoyeaux helped to establish the famous Glénans sailing school He also played a part in the creation of the marina of Port-la-Forêt that is now a hotbed of talent. Mich’ Desj’ is sailing in Saint Tropez the whole week within the context of the Rolex Trophy with friends among the crew of Jour de Fête, the Class Q penned by Paine in 1930.  “I don’t know Saint Tropez very well, just a few passages within the scope of the Tour de France à la Voile, and one edition aboard Magic Carpet. As kids, our playing field was the boatyard which worked with wood. We sanded the old varnish in summer to make a bit of money. I’m just discovering Jour de Fête here, a boat which is steeped in history and has evolved considerably. It’s a real pleasure to sail these waters. I’ve been won over by the aesthetic appeal of the classic boats. Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez enables you to admire what is a truly exceptional fleet first hand and it’s great that an event like this gets so many historic boats out on the water. It’s going to be a fantastic spectacle and I think it’ll be a real feast for the eyes both on the boat and around it!”
An International Association for the large classic schooners. The ISA International Schooner Association was created in Saint Tropez last year, under the aegis of the IMA (International Maxi Association), with the aim of bringing together the owners of large schooners within a structured and organised sporting framework. The idea was to represent the interests of the owners of classic schooners and to satisfy the specific needs of these fabulous, historic craft and, in the short term, to give rise to the creation of a specific programme, honoured by a dedicated trophy, the “Schooner of the Year Trophy”. Fleshing out its ranks already are the prestigious Invader (1905), Orion (1910), Mariette of 1915Puritan (1931), Orianda (1937), Aschanti IV of Vegesack (1954), Elena of London (2009), Atlantic (2010), Germania Nova (2011) and Naema (2013). Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez forms the only French leg of this year of competition, following on from Capri and Monaco.

Today’s partners:  ROLEX From its creation in 1905, Rolex has always had strong ties to the sports universe and the marine world in particular. This passion really took hold in 1927, when the young British swimmer Mercedes Gleitze swam across the English Channel with a Rolex adorning her wrist. Since then, the Swiss manufacturer hasn’t stopped designing timepieces capable of withstanding the most extreme maritime conditions. The links between Rolex and sailing date back to 1958, a year that marks the partnership between the leading Swiss watchmaker and the New York Yacht Club, which founded the America’s Cup. These stellar partnerships with the New York Yacht Club and, later, the Royal Yacht Squadron, are testament to its long-standing commitment to pioneering institutions which have shaped the history and practice of yachting.
The Rolex Trophy: Following on from last year’s Fife jubilee, it’s the Epoque Marconi B class, which has been selected to be the main craft for this year’s prestigious Rolex Trophy. As such, it’s the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on these classic yachts of between 15 and 17 metres in length, which have been penned by some of the most renowned naval architects of the 20th century. Among the many candidates, Stormy Weather of Cowes has to be one of the stars. This Bermudan yawl was designed by Olin Stephens in 1934 when he was just 26 years of age with a string of brilliant successes already to his credit, including the famous Dorade, of which she is an evolution. Built at the Nevins yard, in New York State from mahogany and oak, she’s proof that noble boats are timeless. Sixty-seven years after winning the Bermuda Race, taking five wins in the Miami Nassau and the SORC ranking (South Ocean Racing Conference), she bagged the win in the America’s Cup Jubilee in Cowes in 2001, and ten years later secured the Traditional Yacht Prize (PYTA). Equally wonderful is Skylark of 1937, restored by the Getty family. The elegant yacht is moored in front of the race village at Les Voiles alongside Bluebird, a very refined classic motor yacht, which acts as her mothership. Another exceptional craft, Jour de Fête, designed by Franck Cabot Paine and William Starling Burgess in 1930, is a rare representative of the Q-Class, a measurement rule developed in 1904 by the « Wizard of Bristol », Nathanael Herreshoff. Having solely raced in America, the boat was restored and brought over to the Mediterranean in 2012 thanks to the intervention of a rather famous French America’s Cup helmsman: one Bruno Troublé.

PROGRAMME MODERN YACHTS Saturday 28, Sunday 29 September: Registration and inspection Monday 30 September, Tuesday 1, Wednesday 2, Thursday 3 (J. Laurain Memorial Day, Challenge Day), Friday 4 and Saturday 5 October: Inshore races, 1ststart 11:00 hours CLASSIC YACHTS Sunday 29 and Monday 30 September: Registration and inspection Sunday 29 September: arrival of the Yacht Club de France Autumn Cup feeder race from Cannes Tuesday 1, Wednesday 2, Thursday 3 (J.Laurain Memorial Day, Challenge Day, Club 55 Cup, GYC Centenary Trophy), Friday 4 and Saturday 5 October: Inshore race, 1st start 12:00 hours Prize-giving for everyone  Sunday 6 October, from 11:00 hours

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